The annual Grand Illumination special event in Colonial Williamsburg’s historic area will not take place this year.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the city announced the event was cancelled in a news release earlier this week because of current statewide coronavirus restrictions as well as an increase in cases despite efforts to continue with the ceremony during the pandemic.
“Colonial Williamsburg’s top priority remains the health and safety of guests, employees and the community as a whole,” Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, said in the release.
Grand Illumination is normally held on the first Sunday of December as a free event that is open to the public, and involves dazzling displays of fireworks, musical performances and other festivities centered around the holiday season at multiple locations in Colonial Williamsburg.
In September, plans for a smaller, modified Grand Illumination were announced even with the COVID pandemic ongoing. The plan called for firework demonstrations to occur on December 5, 12 and 19 from a single location over the Governor’s Palace with reserved socially-distanced viewing, but was reliant upon state coronavirus restrictions and current health data, according to the release.
“Unfortunately, that will no longer be possible in light of the Commonwealth’s recently tightened gathering restrictions due to changing health data,” Fleet said.
On November 13, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam put in place new COVID-19 restrictions, one of which reduced the number of people allowed at public and private in-person gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, from 250 to only 25.
“Though we were all looking forward to the return to normal, as represented by the fireworks at Grand Illumination, we must continue to make adjustments for the public’s safety,” Williamsburg City Manager Andrew Trivette said in the release. “Our disappointment that we must forgo the fireworks displays to adhere to the Governor’s recent restrictions is tempered by the fact that we are able to accommodate new events like the Christmas Market and allow favorites like 2nd Sundays to continue.”
Despite the cancellation, Colonial Williamsburg is still open to guests and residents to enjoy other holiday activities in the historic area, such as Merchants Square, the new Christmas market, Liberty Ice Pavilion on Duke of Gloucester Street as well as a folk-art Christmas tree at the art museums of Colonial Williamsburg, according to the release.
“We look forward to presenting the best-ever Grand Illumination in 2021, in conjunction with the City,” Fleet said.
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